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  #1  
Old 03-29-2012, 06:29 PM
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Default Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

So I just bought a full new set of batter heads for my drums: 10", 12", 13", 16" and 14" snare.

I'll be replacing the heads tonight and I'm wondering what your strategy is when you're tuning your kit as a whole.

Curious: do you typically start with the smallest tom and work your way down, or the biggest and work your way up?

I usually find the floor tom to be the hardest one to tune, but I want to make sure there's a relatively even tone spacing between each drum. Obviously there will be significant difference between 13" and 16", and a smaller difference between the 12" and 13". The trick is to find an overall balance between each drum that differs enough to allow each drum to have it's own note within the spectrum of your kit.

So what's your approach to tuning a whole kit?
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:02 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

I find it easier to start with the floor tom and work up.
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:33 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

I've tuned enough to know where each drum should be, so I go in no particular order.

I tune each drum to it's upper midrange. All the heads, no matter what size tom, are at the same tensions. Resos tighter than batters by one octave. The different sizes of the drums provide the tonal separation.

I tune the bass drum for a punchy "hit you in your chest" type tone, and I like a tight snare with a cranked snare reso.
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:12 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

Work from the largest drum and work upwards.
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:30 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
All the heads, no matter what size tom, are at the same tensions. Resos tighter than batters by one octave.
Really? From everything I've read, it's suggested the batter and reso be the same pitch to maximize resonance for toms.

A full octave higher, that must mean your resos are cranked?
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:07 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

Snare and bass drum get separate treatment from the rest of the kit.

I tune the snare depending on the music but I am more interested in how it sounds by itself than worrying about where it fits with the other drums. My most common approach is to tune the snare side to an A and the batter side to a C.

In a rock setting, I'll tune the bass drum to JAW. If I'm playing jazz with my 18" bass drum, I'll tune it higher with single-ply heads. I may even try to work an interval in with the rest of my kit, but it's not a major consideration.

Toms, I tune from largest drum to smallest. I like batter and reso heads tuned to the same pitch and I like to find a "sweet spot" where the shell resonates and the drum really sings. I also like intervals of perfect fourths. I tune low or high depending on the music, but I avoid tuning really low.

It's not always possible to get a perfect fourth and get the drums to their sweet spot. If I have to choose, I'd rather get the sweet spot for each drum and let the intervals vary.
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:21 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

Quote:
Originally Posted by 8Mile View Post
Snare and bass drum get separate treatment from the rest of the kit.

I tune the snare depending on the music but I am more interested in how it sounds by itself than worrying about where it fits with the other drums. My most common approach is to tune the snare side to an A and the batter side to a C.

In a rock setting, I'll tune the bass drum to JAW. If I'm playing jazz with my 18" bass drum, I'll tune it higher with single-ply heads. I may even try to work an interval in with the rest of my kit, but it's not a major consideration.

Toms, I tune from largest drum to smallest. I like batter and reso heads tuned to the same pitch and I like to find a "sweet spot" where the shell resonates and the drum really sings. I also like intervals of perfect fourths. I tune low or high depending on the music, but I avoid tuning really low.

It's not always possible to get a perfect fourth and get the drums to their sweet spot. If I have to choose, I'd rather get the sweet spot for each drum and let the intervals vary.
Thanks for your input.

For some perspective to your fourth tuning, what size toms are you using? I can't imagine getting a fourth between a 12" and 13", but I could be wrong.
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:28 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xero Talent View Post
Thanks for your input.

For some perspective to your fourth tuning, what size toms are you using? I can't imagine getting a fourth between a 12" and 13", but I could be wrong.
I generally play a four-piece configuration which makes things pretty easy. Usually I'm playing 12/14/18 (for bop) or 13/16/22 (for rock). The perfect fourth is pretty easy to get between my 8x12 and 14x14 or my 9x13 and 16x16.

I did, at one time, play a 12/13/16 in a five-piece and I was able to get the fourths. My drums have a pretty wide tuning range, I guess. But I wasn't all that happy with the sound of the 12" tuned that high.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:00 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

I've always done the bass first, then the snare, then toms....high to low........just try to get a good sounding interval between them.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:25 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

Bass Drum - PS3 batter, Ambassador res. tuned just above wrinkle (both sides) until the the drum breathes and has some fullness. I also used DW pillow and front head ported.

Tom - G2 coated batter, Ambassador res. Bottom tuned 1 1/4 turns, Batter tuned slightly above 1/2 turn.

Floor Tom - G2 coated batter, Ambassador res. Bottom tuned 1 1/4 turns, Batter tuned just above wrinkle and enough to get all buzz's out.

Snare - Ambassador Batter, Snare side res. Bottom tuned tight about 3 full turns, Batter tuned medium or bring it up to a pitch I like. Usually 2 1/4 turns.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:30 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xero Talent View Post
Really? From everything I've read, it's suggested the batter and reso be the same pitch to maximize resonance for toms.

A full octave higher, that must mean your resos are cranked?

I think really, the goal is the same note, not necessarily the same pitch. I just prefer the reso to be an octave above. The drums sound punchier to me that way. It may be true that the drum resonates longer tuned to the same pitch, but I'd sacrifice that for a more complex tone. My resos are not cranked above their range, but yes they are tighter than the batter. I think the shell needs to be a certain tension or above to contribute what it has. My thinking is, batter looser than reso to move more air, reso tighter to get the shell involved and for further projection.

If you're interested in experimenting with octaves, the formula I arrived at is 74-75 batter and 83-84 reso on the drum dial, in case you use one. Tom size doesn't matter.
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Old 03-30-2012, 05:26 AM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

I tune bass drum first...reso tighter than batter. Probably not an octave, maybe 4-5 steps.

Toms, I start with my 18" floor first, because it's a beast. I tune the reso first, generally to the note the shell is telling me (John Good, DW style). Then I get the batter about the same pitch and use that as my baseline. I normally end up with the reso 3-4 steps higher than batter. Batter is more than JAW, but not a whole lot.

I move up the toms from there, 16" floor and 13" tom.

I tune my snares independent of the toms. I have a 6x12 Pork Pie (Maple, USA version), LM400, and an LM402 - those cover my bases pretty well and each has a nice tuning range.

Aquarian Heads:
Bass: Impact II batter, Regulator full resonant
Toms: Studio-X Coated w/Dot and Classic Clear resos
Snare: Hi-Energy or Studio-X Coated w/Dot over Hi-Performance
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Old 03-30-2012, 06:52 AM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

Quote:
Originally Posted by 8Mile View Post
Snare and bass drum get separate treatment from the rest of the kit.
+1. With a way more finicky approach applied to my snare drums.

From there, I will usually tune toms from smallest to largest. No real rhyme nor reason to it, just the way I've always done it. If anything doesn't sound right as a "collective" from there, I'll tweak as is necessary.

I'm also "usually" in the reso higher than batter camp. There have been exceptions, but as a general rule reso is always higher.

Last edited by Pocket-full-of-gold; 03-30-2012 at 07:24 AM. Reason: Spelling Nazi's are out in force.
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  #14  
Old 03-30-2012, 03:17 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

So I swapped all the heads on my toms last night, stock Yamaha heads for some new Pinstripes. I also re-tuned my bass drum and snare drums.

I removed all the hoops and heads, and cleaned up all my shells and hardware. So now all my drums are nice and shiny! Then I cleaned up the bearing edges.

I started with the bass drum, which was honestly the hardest drum to tune. I find it difficult to get that boomy punch without getting that dead flappy "thud" sound. It's a very fine line, and the "sweet spot" window is small, but I was able to find it after some experimenting. I also added a folded beach towel inside for a little muffling.

Floor tom was next. Using the Drum Tuning Bible, it's tuned to C. Both batters and resos are all tuned to the same pitch. 13", 12" and finally 10".

I finished with my two snare drums.

I did my auxiliary 5.5" wood snare first. I have the reso about 2 full turns on each lug, so it's pretty tight, but not cranked. Then I turned on the snares and just started adjusting the batter 1/2 turn at a time until I got a nice snare note.

Then did my 6.5" main wood snare. I used the same approach in tuning as the 5.5".

Interestingly, there is not a lot of difference between the 5.5" and 6.5". Not sure why, but I find it very difficult to get individual sounds from them. I could play both side by side and I can barely tell the difference between them. Any help would be appreciated on that.

There is a real discernible sweet spot for each drum where it really opens up. If the reso is sharp or flat (compared to the batter), the tone is totally choked out from the drum. Adjust it slightly to match the batter and all of a sudden the drum just sings. It's awesome.

Anyway, thanks for your input folks. I'm really happy with how they sound.

The downside? Brand new heads on a newly polished drumkit means I don't even want to play them! They just look and sound perfect.

Now if I can only figure out how to get my snares to sound different..... !
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Old 03-31-2012, 03:45 PM
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Default Re: Your Tuning Strategy - Full Kit

Well, if you really want your two snares to sound really different you need to use a different tuning strategy on one of them. 6.5" and 5.5" isn't a whole lot of difference so they can easily be tuned about the same. I don't know how different you want them to sound, but I'm guessing you want something pretty drastic.

If you want your side snare to really pop you might want to crank up the heads a few turns on each side. Don't go too crazy but you should be able to tune it a good bit higher than the 6.5".

Also you could try out some different heads to tweak the sound of one snare, but this won't have as much an effect as a different tuning.

Still, your best bet to really get a different sounding side snare might be to save up and buy a 10" or 12" popcorn snare. These easily sound very different.
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